WOMEN'S FINAL TO INSPIRE THE BLUES
The UEFA Women's Champions League Final, staged at Stamford Bridge is now just one week away and Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes is looking forward to the event.
The Blues have made a fantastic start to the season and sit atop the FA Women's Super League ahead of this evening's game away at Bristol Academy, and Hayes is hoping that watching Lyon and Wolfsburg will provide inspiration to her players.
'This is a massive deal for the whole club. Everybody is really excited and it's a great opportunity for us,' said Hayes, who was part of the triumphant Arsenal setup that lifted the trophy in 2007.
'Being back around the trophy reminds me what a wonderful tournament it is, and how we'd like to bring some of those glory moments to this club.
'Our Ladies, reserves and centre of excellence will be there to look at what we are aspiring to do and I hope there will come a time when we are in the final. I want the players to see what can be achieved at the top end of the women's game. The club has been supportive and we have big ambitions.'
Looking back six years, there are still fond memories of when Arsenal beat Swedes Umea IK 1-0 in the final.
'It was the first time a club outside Germany or Sweden made the final, and we went into it as underdogs, but as part-timers we won against a fully professionalised team,' Hayes side. 'That stands out. We were the best of Great Britain with international captains from England, Scotland, Wales and also Ireland on the team. It was a time when Arsenal Ladies' good work came to fruition.'
This year, it is France and Germany that are represented, as Lyon seek a third straight success against first-time finalists Wolfsburg.
Lyon boast quality throughout their team, with a host of internationals. Goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, defenders Laura Georges and Sonia Bompastor, midfielder Camille Abily, playmaker Louisa Nécib, and strikers Eugénie Le Sommer and Élodie Thomis all represent France, and are combined with foreign talents such as Swedish forward Lotta Schelin and Swiss attacker Lara Dickenmann. Over the winter they also signed USA winger Megan Rapinoe and Japan forward Shinobu Ohno.
Wolfsburg's Conny Pohlers has already been a European champion twice previously with Potsdam and Frankfurt and is partnered up front by Alexandra Popp while Martina Müller brings the experience of 100 German caps.
Captain Nadine is also a previous winner, while Verena Faisst, Josephine Henning and Luisa Wensing are all German international defenders. Wolfsburg will have to cope with the absence of Viola Odebrecht, though, as she is suspended.
Tickets for the Women's Champions League Final, with prices starting at just £5, are available here.